Russian Impressionism 1930-1980, an exhibition of paintings at the Peninsula Gallery in Lewes will be on display Saturday, Feb. 16, through Saturday, March 30. A reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Feb. 16.
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the opening of the Iron Curtain, little was known in the west about Russian artists and their painting. Inspired by the Communist Party’s utopian ideology, Soviet artists from the Cold War era drew strength from a culture that glorified the common worker and the natural landscape. Many of them pursued rigorous academic training at the Repin Institute in St. Petersburg or the Surikov Institute in Moscow. At the conclusion of training, they were assessed and, if good enough, they were sponsored by the government. A studio, canvas and paint were provided for them, and they were paid a stipend. In return they were expected to document the great Soviet experiment.
Although in the early years after the Russian Revolution of 1917 the style of the artists was considered realist, many of them became influenced by the work of the 19th century French impressionists. Between the years 1930-80, these artists started to produce work in a more impressionistic way. They still painted scenes of everyday life but they attacked their canvas with bold brush work, color and a dramatic use of light. They were not robots producing government propaganda in a mechanical fashion. Their images were depictions of a vast and beautiful country, and the sturdy people who inhabited it.
“Over the years since this work was revealed to a world audience, western critics have come to realize that this genre represented one of the most significant art discoveries of the 20th century. We at the Peninsula Gallery are extremely fortunate and proud to be able to bring a small sample of Russian Impressionism to Lewes,” said Tony Boyd-Heron, co-owner of the gallery. “The paintings in this show are truly a window on the Russian landscape and the ordinary people who lived in it at that time.”
All images will appear on the gallery website and will be immediately available for purchase at that time. Images will also show the hand-carved frames that so beautifully complement the paintings.
The Peninsula Gallery is just across the canal bridge in Lewes at the shops at the Beacon, 520 East Savannah Road. For more information, call 302-645-0551 or go to www.peninsula-gallery.com.